21 July 2021

How to do bust adjustments on a pleated bodice

Tilly and the Buttons - bust adjustment on pleated bodice

Do you ever feel like your clothes would fit slightly better across the bust if there was a little bit more fabric, or conversely a little bit less fabric in that area? If this is something you agree with, then you might benefit from doing a bust adjustment to your bodice pattern pieces. 

You may already be familiar with doing adjustments on bust darted bodices, dartless bodices and even on pattern pieces for knit fabrics. But what about bodices with pleats at the waist?

After searching high and low on the internet and in my trusty fitting books, I couldn't find anything that covered how to do bust adjustments on a pleated bodice. As I wanted to do a full bust adjustment myself on my Skye sundress pattern, I knew that other people would want to do one too. So, I had a play around with the bodice, did some testing and came up with a system that has worked for me. I mean that's the best thing about sewing isn't it - you can make your own rules! 

How do I know if I need a bust adjustment? 

There's a technical and a not-so-technical answer here! The answer depends on your own unique shape and the fit of the garment - you may not need to do a bust adjustment to a loose top or dress, but might have to do one on something more fitted. If you find that things are generally either too tight or too loose in the bust area, then I'd recommend making a quick toile of the bodice, or wearable toile of the whole garment to test the fit around the bust and take it from there. I'm going to briefly cover how you would work out how much to add or subtract from your bust in the adjustment, but do remember this is just a rough framework, and you might not need to do it at all. 

Measure your high bust (your upper chest, just under your armpits). If you're making a pattern in our sizes UK 6-24 size band, add 5cm (2in). If you're making a pattern in our sizes 16-34 size band, add 10cm (4in). Choose the pattern size with that bust measurement – this is the size you’ll do your bust adjustment on.

Now measure your full bust (fullest part, around the nipples) and compare it to the bust measurement on the pattern size you just selected. 

If your full bust is 5cm (2in) smaller than the pattern, you’ll be subtracting 5cm (2in) from the pattern; if it’s 7.5cm (3in) bigger, you’ll be adding 7.5cm (3in) and so on. If you need to make the bust bigger, you'll need to do a full bust adjustment (FBA) and if you need to make it smaller, you'll need to do a small bust adjustment (SBA). 

Since the front bodice pattern represents one half of the top, as the fabric is cut on the fold - or one boob - you'll be adding or subtracting half of that difference. So, if you want to do a 5cm (2in) full bust adjustment, you'll need to add 2.5cm (1in) in total to the pattern piece. We're going to add this fullness, or subtract it inside the pleats, you'll need to divide the number of you wish to add to or subtract from one half of the bodice between the number of pleats you'll be adjusting - don't worry if this sounds a bit complicated, there is more info below!

14 July 2021

Make Your Own Bias Binding

 How to make your own bias binding - a cute detail to add to your homemade clothes - Tilly and the Buttons

Want to add a pretty detail to your homemade clothes?

Bias binding is useful for creating a neat finish on seams that aren’t attached to anything else and don’t have a facing. The bias cut will allow the binding to stretch slightly, which is handy for getting around curves such as armholes and necklines.

For example, the armholes below the cap sleeve on our Etta dress sewing pattern, the back, underarms and straps of our FiFi camisole and the armholes and neckline of our new Skye sundress (which I’ll be sewing in the video tutorial below).

You can buy ready-made bias binding relatively easily. But it’s good to know how to make it yourself so you can make it in a print, colour and width of your choice. Homemade binding is one of those details that can make your handmade clothes truly special. It's also a great fabric stash buster!

You'll need a bias binding maker for the method shown in this blog post. But a bias binding maker isn’t an essential tool, as in the video tutorial below I’ll also show you how to make bias binding without one, just using your iron instead - yay!

Here's how to make it...

How to make your own bias binding - a cute detail to add to your homemade clothes - Tilly and the Buttons

You’ll need a large piece of fabric – a light- to medium-weight woven cotton will be fine. I'm using a Liberty print Tana cotton lawn. You'll also need a bias binding maker for the method I'm going to show you. You can get these handy tools in different sizes – I’m using a 12mm (1/2in) one (this is an affiliate link), which will make single fold bias binding that is 12mm (1/2in) wide once finished. This size is perfect for binding the armholes on the Etta dress.

If you want to make double fold bias binding, for example to bind a neckline edge where you want the binding to be visible on the outside as well as the inside of a garment, you'll press the single fold binding in half after it comes out of the maker. So you’ll end up with 6mm (1/4in) wide binding with a 12mm (1/2in) maker.

How to make your own bias binding - a cute detail to add to your homemade clothes - Tilly and the Buttons

12 July 2021

Fitting the Skye Sundress

Making the lovely Skye sundress and want a few hints and tips on fitting? Well then, this post is for you! Skye is one of our sewing patterns available in TWO size bands - either in sizes UK 6-24 or UK 16-34which has a whole new size chart, going up to a 152.5cm (60in) bust, 134.5cm (53in) waist and 155cm (61in) hip, with different proportions to get the best fit. 

Skye is perfect for stitching newbies as it’s easy to sew and fit – yay! This post will cover the most common fitting adjustments you might want to consider for your Skye dress. However, don’t feel like you need to do them all, or even any at all!

Skye has an easy-fitting empire waist bodice, which is gently shaped with bust pleats, and the neckline and armholes are finished on the inside with bias binding. The neckline has a gorgeous, slightly square scoop shape, and is designed to cover a bra, with a flowy, gathered skirt with mini-, knee- and maxi-hem lengths to choose from. Of course, there are deep in-seam pockets too!

We sometimes recommend that you make a "toile" (or "muslin") - a practice garment in cheap or spare fabric in a similar weight to the fabric you're going to use for the final garment to test the fit - however, it's not strictly necessary here. If you're unsure about your sizing and have some expensive fabric lined up to make the dress in, you could make a quick toile of the bodice to check the fit, leaving off the skirt. However, if you don't feel overly precious about your fabric, then go for it!

In this post we're going to cover: 

  • Choosing your size
  • Lengthening or shortening pattern pieces 
  • How to combine pattern sizes 
  • How to do wide and narrow shoulder adjustments

9 July 2021

Let's Sew Skye! Inspo & Fabric Shopping

Let's Sew Skye! Inspo & Fabric Shopping

Summer is in full swing and lucky for you we've just released the ultimate hot-weather sewing pattern, the Skye sundress. If you haven't read Nikki's introduction post, then pop on over because she's shared all the details you need to know about this easy-breezy design. 


The simple fitting empire waist bodice is gently shaped with pleats under the bust and has a neat bias binding finish on the inside. The slightly square scoop neckline is designed to cover a bra, with optional bra strap stays for added security. Add the optional faux ties to the straps for an extra touch of whimsy. Choose from mini-, knee- or maxi-length hemlines for the floaty, gathered skirt. And, of course, it has side seam pockets for your ice cream money!

Get your copy of the Skye sundress sewing pattern HERE. Skye is available in TWO size bands UK 6-24 / US 2-20 / EUR 34-52 or UK 16-34 / US 12-30 / EUR 44-62. If you are in between the two size bands or want to learn more about our new sizes, check out this post to see which one is right for you. 

Skye is a fabric versatile pattern, so we're sure you'll have something perfect waiting in your fabric stash already! We recommend light to medium weight fabrics such as cotton lawn, poplin, seersucker, lighter weight linen and blends, double gauze, viscose (rayon), lyocell (Tencel), silk or poly crepe de chine.

Now let's get some inspiration!

Checks and Gingham

Dresses: 1 / 2 / 3

7 July 2021

Meet the Skye sundress - available in sizes UK 6-24 and UK 16-34!

Tilly and the Buttons - Skye sundress
Picture this. You wake up and it's a beautiful, sunny day. You wish you had an easy-breezy, throw-it-on sundress to wear. And then it hits you, you do - the Skye sundress! We're delighted to share with your our latest sewing pattern, which is available in two size bands - sizes UK 6-24 and UK 16-34 - yay! We think you're going to love her :)

Skye is the ultimate sundress (if we do say so ourselves), with three hemlines and delicious details to see you through the warmer months in style. Dress Skye down in the day with trainers and sunglasses, or pair it with some wedge heels in the evening to sashay to a dinner date. 

Excited to learn about Skye? Let's go...

Tilly and the Buttons - Skye sundress

30 June 2021

(AD) Design Your Own Cute & Colourful Woven Labels with Dortex Labels

This is a paid advertisement by Dortex.
 Design Your Own Cute & Colourful Woven Labels with Dortex Labels

Woven labels are fast becoming the must-have finishing touch to any of your me-made clothes, and Team Buttons are certainly on board with this obsession! We love an inspirational or sassy quote hiding in our makes, or a nod to the rest of your wardrobe that this new dress is one of a kind. So when Dortex got in touch with us to design our own labels for personal use, we jumped at the chance to design a collection of dreamy woven labels perfect for all the Buttons...

Picking which woven label to stitch into my latest makes (and even my much loved older ones) is now one of my favourite parts of the design process. I love matching the colours to my garment's fabric or totally clashing and letting the label stand out.

Design Your Own Cute & Colourful Woven Labels with Dortex Labels

Designing your own woven labels can sound a little daunting and you might think you need technical or design skills, but with Dortex's easy to use website and online design process, you'll feel like a pro picking your colours, fonts and motifs from their stylish selection. There's a really great range of colours to choose from, along with various qualities, sizes & more. Allowing you to create gorgeous, unique labels whatever your skill or budget.

I wanted to create a variety of labels using both Dortex's label design building on their website, along with creating some of our own custom label designs in Photoshop and uploading them, so 1 could get the full experience. I used a selection of designs, sizes and colours, so we can demonstrate just some of what you can create! 

Design Your Own Cute & Colourful Woven Labels with Dortex Labels

23 June 2021

Sewing For The Season - Summer!

Sewing For The Season - Summer!

Hurrah! Didn't it feel like summer wasn't quite going to make it back in May? So. Much. Rain... But luckily the clouds have cleared right on time and we've been blessed with plenty of sunny days with lots more to come. So let's get that summer sewing in full swing, shall we... 

I've had a look through aaalllll the high street trends for summer so I'll be showing you how to sew the looks for yourself, including gorgeous fabric recommendations for some must-make summer patterns.


Fancy seeing some of our summer sewing picks in action? Check out our video below with some sewing chat with Abi:

Cool & Comfy

Sewing For The Season - Summer! Cool and Comfy

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6

We all know comfy dresses are where it's at and here at Tilly and the Buttons, comfy dresses are our bread and butter! Loose-fitting smock dresses are SO comfy in summer, swishing gently in the breeze and if you make midi or maxi length, you can protect your skin from the sun at the same time (always a plus if you're as pale as me!). 

Our Stevie add-on pattern has a gathered skirt so you can turn Stevie into a breezy, oversized smock dress, with the easiest sleeves you'll ever sew. Or if you fancy upping your smock dress sewing game, try our Indigo pattern in a fabric with more stability like cotton poplin, for super trendy slightly puffed sleeves

Fabric Finds:

Sewing For The Season - Summer!

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8

Sewing For The Season - Summer!

16 June 2021

Five Tips for a Neat Finish

Five tips for a neat finish by Tilly and the Buttons

To sew neatly or not to sew neatly, that is the question? Whether you like to take your time sewing everything precisely or prefer to stitch a little more freely and hope for the best, a few little tips up your sleeve to improve your finished result can be a huge plus.

We are definitely of the opinion that sewing should be fun and there is never just one way to approach things. We advocate for taking your time or taking shortcuts. The way you sew is up to you and it's not for anybody else to tell you what is the "right" or "wrong" way to do things. There is just a way to do things that work best for you! 

If you do want to improve your sewing or take it to next level, here are five tips that only take a few extra minutes per project, but add hugely to the finished garment result. They can save you a little time in the long run if you are the kind of stitcher who likes to unpick to get things just so. If you tend to go with the flow, these tips can help mask a few little humps, bumps and lumps - if you so choose!

Now on to the tips :)

Five tips for a neat finish by Tilly and the Buttons

1) Baste (tack) before you sew 

Have something that needs to line up or stay in place, like the end of waist tie or side seams that join at a waistline? You could take an extra few minutes to baste (tack) pieces together before stitching them for real to make sure they go together nicely. 

Set your machine to a longer stitch length - somewhere between 3-4mm - and sew your pieces together. It can be helpful to do this in a contrasting colour to make the stitching easier to remove after you have sewn your final line. When you come to sew the whole seam, the basted (tacked) pieces will stay put, and you can feel smug :)

It may seem like a step too far, but it can reduce the frustrating process of unpicking stitches when your pieces haven't lined up as perfectly as you had pinned, or that waist tie that made a break for it during the sewing process.

Five tips for a neat finish by Tilly and the Buttons

2) Use a walking foot

8 June 2021

Summer School - 30% off Online Workshops!

Tilly and the Buttons Online Workshop summer sale - until 13/06/21


Use code: SUMMER30 for 30% off online workshops from Tuesday 8th June until Sunday 13th June 2021 midnight BST 

Do you want to learn to sew or build your stitching skills this summer? We have just the thing for you! 

We have a range of online video workshops that cater to every skill level and can be taken at your own pace with 24/7 access. You can take the classes from the comfort of your own home (you could even watch the lessons in the garden with a spritz!), and Tilly will be there to break things down every step of the way, with clear instructions. The courses are split into modules, making it easy to revisit useful sections in later projects.

Make Friends with a Sewing Machine online workshop

It is also National Sewing Machine day on Sunday 13th what better way to celebrate your machine than getting to know it a little bit better :)

Whether you need to learn how to use your sewing machine or finally want to conquer your overlocker (serger), we have an online workshop for you!

If you've been putting off getting your new sewing machine out of the box (we all know this feeling!), or feel a wave of panic coming over you when the machine needs threading, our Make Friends with a Sewing Machine workshop is just what you need! The class covers:
  • Getting to know your machine (including what to look out for if you don't have one yet)
  • Threading your machine 
  • Getting to grips with stitching
  • Sewing a simple scarf
  • Troubleshooting tips and how to fix your sewing mistakes

2 June 2021

Five Tips for Cutting and Sewing Slippery Fabric

I know we’ve all been there, dreaming up floaty summer dresses but then our drapey fabric starts misbehaving at the sewing machine, if not before driving us crazy at the cutting table and developing a mind of its own. 

Mismatched seams, fraying fabric and all kinds of wonky cutting, there’s a reason sewing with lighter weight fabrics has a tricky reputation. But we promise it doesn’t have to be like that and sewing with lightweight fabrics can be rather lovely when you've got some tricks up your sleeve... 

Drapey fabrics make perfectly cool and floaty summer dresses and can provide some serious swish-factor. Check out our Lyra shirt dress (the interfacing tip in this blog post will be especially helpful for that collar!), the summer-ready Seren dress and our simple Lotta dress to name a couple of our patterns that can be made in lightweight fabrics like viscose & crepe.

26 May 2021

Five Tips for Sewing Clothing with Quilting Cotton

Five tips for sewing clothing with quilting cotton

The pretty prints beckon... the cute colours call to you... sometimes their allure is just too strong to resist. Yes, we're talking quilting cottons.

Quilting cottons - or just "medium weight cottons" - are often used for home and accessory sewing. They come in an array of beautiful designs and quirky prints, and - crucially - tend to feel stiff and hold their shape, rather than hanging softly. This stiffness puts many stitchers off using quilting cotton for sewing clothing, but if you embrace this kind of fabric for a perfectly paired project, the result can be gorgeous! 

So when is it okay to use quilting cotton for sewing apparel? Of course part of this comes down to personal preference, but the guidelines I tend to follow are these:

Five tips for sewing clothing with quilting cotton

1. Determine how much drape or body your project needs

Quilting cottons tend to have quite a lot of body to them, so won't cling or flow over your curves. I learnt the hard way in my early days of sewing that quilting cottons make super crisp blouses that stand away from your body - which works well for some designs, but not so well for others.

Five tips for sewing clothing with quilting cotton

19 May 2021

How to Add In-Seam Pockets to a Garment

How to add in-seam pockets to a dress, skirt or trousers - Tilly and the Buttons

Hands up if you love clothes with pockets? Show me a DIY dressmaker who doesn’t!

What if the pattern you’re making doesn’t include pockets? No problemo – as well as topstitching patch pockets to the outside of a skirt, it’s easy to add in-seam (hidden) pockets to dresses, trousers, skirts and more. Today I’m going to show you how to add pockets to the side seams - give this a whirl on the Jaimie pyjamasAlexa jumpsuitDominique skirt and more!

Oh and you can download our pocket pattern piece for free!

Open the pattern in Adobe Reader (you can download it for free) and print the pattern piece actual size / 100% scale on A4 or Letter size paper.

You might want to bookmark our handy video to follow the sewing steps as you go, or the photo guide is below.

Insert these pockets into your homemade garment before you start sewing the pieces together. Decide where you want the pockets to sit – hold up the front fabric piece to your body, imagine putting your hands in the pockets, and mark with pins where the top of the pocket openings will fall on the side seams. Mark the same position on the back fabric piece – let’s say it’s a skirt for the rest of this tutorial, but it could be a dress, the skirt part of a dress, trouser legs…

The sides of this pocket pattern are straight – if you’re making something that has a curved side seam, simply curve the side seam on the pocket pattern to fit your garment.

How to add in-seam pockets to a dress, skirt or trousers - Tilly and the Buttons

12 May 2021

NEW! - Billie and Jaimie Now in UK 16-34 Size Band

Billie sweatshirt and dress sewing pattern in UK 16-34 from Tilly and the Buttons
Jaimie pyjama bottoms and shorts sewing pattern in UK 16-34 from Tilly and the Buttons

We've been soooo excited to share two new additions to our UK 16-34 (US 12-30 / EUR 44-62) size band, and here they are - it's Billie and Jaimie. 

The Billie sweatshirt and dress will steal your heart with the gorgeous balloon sleeves and cutaway pockets on the dress, while the Jaimie pyjama bottoms and shorts will make bedtime your favourite event of the day. Jaimie is an ideal project for newbie stitchers and Billie is a great introduction to sewing with knit fabrics. They will get you confident with sewing your own handmade wardrobe! 

Billie and Jaimie make a dreamy (and comfy) loungewear set when worn together, don't you think? So, we are giving you 20% off when you buy both the Billie and Jaimie PDF patterns in the UK 16-34 size range* until Sunday 16th May 2021 midnight BST. There is no discount code required, just add both patterns to your cart, checkout and the price will drop - woohoo! 

Billie sweatshirt and dress sewing pattern in UK 16-34 from Tilly and the Buttons
Billie sweatshirt and dress sewing pattern in UK 16-34 from Tilly and the Buttons
Billie sweatshirt and dress sewing pattern in UK 16-34 from Tilly and the Buttons

5 May 2021

Seven Sewing Projects You Can Make in an Afternoon

Seven sewing projects you can make in an afternoon

Find yourself with small pockets of sewing time and want to see a project through from start to finish? Yep, we all know this feeling. A satisfyingly speedy make can leave you feeling motivated and encouraged by being able to complete something in an afternoon.

Is that possible you ask? Well, it absolutely is if you're working with a simple design that has limited pieces. Avoiding fiddly fastenings and designs that require fitting can set you up for success. You can also do yourself a favour and browse the notions and instructions while having your breakfast, soaking in the bath, watching the telly... any snatched pocket of time before the sewing session can help you familiarise yourself with what's going to take place. Plan for no surprises!

I reach for simple projects when I'm in a sewing slump or don't have the headspace for something complicated. It reminds me that I have sewing-super-skills and makes me feel rather proud that I can make my own clothes... sometimes we forget how wonderful that is!

If you're taking part in Me Made May 2021 and you've spotted a few wardrobe gaps you'd like to fill, this list of seven sewing patterns might be just what you're looking for. 

New to Me Made May, or have no idea what I'm talking about? Check out all the deets of the challenge that is run by the very lovely Zoe of 'So, Zo', where makers take a month to wear (and share if you fancy) their handmade garments. You can set yourself an aim; maybe you want to wear your makes more often, show some rarely worn pieces some love, or just take some time to assess the handmade garments in your wardrobe - it's a highlight in our DIY style calendar!

Now onto the projects...

Seven sewing projects you can make in an afternoon

The Jaimie pyjamas make bedtime the event of the day! They are simple to construct, comfortable to wear and a very speedy make!

SIZE RANGE: UK 4-24 (US 0-20 / EUR 32-52) OR UK 16-34 (US 12-30 / EUR 44-62)

PATTERN FORMAT: Sizes UK 4-24 printed or PDF pattern OR sizes UK 16-34 PDF pattern

NUMBER OF PATTERN PIECES: Three, plus a length for cutting your elastic


GOOD TO KNOW: Jaimie comes with a FREE full video sewalong


You might also like the Joe pyjamas. Brother to our Jaimie PJs, they are great for anyone who prefers a straighter, menswear fit. 

Seven sewing projects you can make in an afternoon

28 April 2021

How To Sew On A Button (+ Video!)

How to sew on a buttons with video by Tilly and the Buttons

Hand sewing on a button is one of those pleasing sewing tasks that everyone should have in their dressmaking skill set. At one point or another almost everyone will need to sew on a button, right? Whether that's replacing a long lost button on a ready-to-wear garment, or adding a sprinkle of colourful buttons to your latest make, this tutorial will show you step by step (with a helpful video too!) how to sew on a button by hand.

But wait, if there's a button, there must be a buttonhole! Fear, not sewists, we've already got you covered when it comes to stitching up perfect, stress-free buttonholes. Check out THIS post for automatic one-step buttonholes and THIS post for four-step ones. We promise they aren't as scary as you might think, and can actually be a really satisfying part of sewing!

Let's get back to buttons...

In this tutorial, I'm sewing a colour pop of bright pink, heart-shaped buttons onto a floaty viscose Lyra shirt dress. The perfect pattern for nailing your buttonholes and buttons! You can also find buttons on our Indigo Add-on pattern for a cool button-up back dress, on our classic Rosa shirt, the simple Arielle skirt, our swishy Seren, and our trendy Alexa jumpsuit.

How to sew on a buttons with video by Tilly and the Buttons

21 April 2021

Ten Tips for Sewing a Neat Shirt Collar

Ten tips for sewing a neat shirt collar - Tilly and the Buttons

When you advance your sewing beyond the basics, making a shirt or shirt dress can make you feel like a sewing ninja! And there's something particularly satisfying about the intricate steps involved in crafting the perfect shirt collar. Sure, it may be one of the fiddlier aspects of making your own clothes, but it's also super rewarding to put on that collar and know that you made it yourself.

I'm going to share my top ten tips with you for how to get great results when sewing a shirt collar. You can use these tips when making our Lyra shirt dress pattern, Rosa shirt and dress pattern, or basically any other shirt with a two-piece pointed collar and stand. 

Ten tips for sewing a neat shirt collar - Tilly and the Buttons
Rosa shirt dress sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

If you'd like more help with shirtmaking in general, I recommend our Sew Your Own Shirt or Shirt Dress online workshop, in which I take you through every step of making the Rosa shirt and dress, with video lessons giving you a front row seat in the class.

Anatomy of a sewing collar

Before we get stuck into the tips, let's get our heads around which pieces of the collar are which, and what direction they are cut and whether they are interfaced in our sewing patterns:
  • Top collar = the outside part of the collar that's on view when you wear it. Cut on the straight grain and interfaced to give it structure.
  • Under collar = the inside part of the collar that's folded under when you wear it. Cut on the bias grain so it sits nicely around your neck, and not interfaced (in our patterns at least - it can be interfaced sometimes).
  • Outer collar stand = band that sits under the collar, and which is visible from the outside. Cut on the straight grain, and interfaced for structure.
  • Inner collar stand = inside of this band which sits against your neck. Cut on the bias grain so it curves nicely around your neck, and not interfaced.
Got it? Okay! Now onto my tips...

Trimmed under collar and inner stand curves

1) Trim the under collar and inner stand to hide the seams

When you've been to all the trouble to sew your own shirt, the last thing you want is the collar seams to be visible when you wear your finished creation. 

To stop them peeping out, start by trimming a teensy bit off the short ends and long outer edge of the under collar, as well as the curved ends of the inner collar stand (remember - these are the uninterfaced, bias-cut ones). Trim by 2mm (1/16in), tapering to 0mm at corners. This will encourage the seams to roll towards the underside. 

When you pin the top collar to the under collar and the outer stand to the inner stand, just be sure to  bring the raw edges together to make your trimming worthwhile, rather than laying them flat against each other.